Even though I have been back in the Catholic Church for about 18 months now, I still don’t fully understand the Church’s teaching on justification. But the cool thing is, it doesn’t matter. I really don’t need to know exactly what it is that justifies me, so long as I have faith in Christ and I am obedient to God’s commandments. Let me now, for the sake of discussion, give a naive description of the way Protestants and Catholics say we are justified:
*]Protestants: we are justified by faith alone.
*]Catholics: we are justified by faith, hope and charity (love or good works).
Like I said, I don’t really understand the particulars of the Catholic teaching, and the Protestant teaching seems to vary widely. But this is not a thread on how we are justified.
Instead, my question is this: why does it matter to the Protestant that I believe I am justified by faith, hope and charity? A lot of Protestants I know would tell me that I am doomed because I am Catholic and because I believe in the Catholic “additions”. But according to their own theology, why should that matter? I firmly believe in Christ, and so by their own theology, that should mean I am justified! I once asked this question in a Protestant forum and never received a satisfactory answer:
Must I understand that I am justified by faith alone in order to be justified?
I think the reason I didn’t get a satisfactory answer is because if the Protestant were to answer “yes”, then that means that we’re no longer justified by faith alone. But if the Protestant were to answer “no”, then that means that all Catholics are justified according to the Protestant theology!
BIG RED DISCLAIMER:
This thread is aimed only at those Protestants that think along the lines of those described in this thread (ie that I am doomed by being a faithful Catholic). By no means am I trying to group all Protestants together, and I understand perfectly that there are many many Protestants that do not follow this reasoning. This thread is not aimed at those people.